It is one of the most fearful movies of all time…at least to me. It all started out living near South Padre Island when I was growing up. There was the beach that we would go to with my parents and siblings and my dad would take us out one by one, and sometimes by twos and threes, as far out as he could take us. This means that we would be bobbing up and down with the incoming waves and my dad would be hanging onto us with all his might. While my siblings thought it was fun to go out that far, I didn’t think it was that fun.
For some reason, I have always been afraid of going too deep in the waters of the ocean. I think it’s because I have no idea what is under me, lurking around me, or whatever it is that may decide to have me for lunch.
Once, during a family vacation to Nashville, Tennessee, we stayed with some friends of ours. I was only nine-years-old when my parents dropped my older sister, older two brothers, and my twin sister and I at the movies to watch Jaws. It is not a movie for nine-year-old boys who are already nervous and that have a touch of CDO (the letters are in better order this way). It scared me to death. People, swimming and enjoying their day at the beach, turned out to be the dish of choice for this humongous shark. At the time, I couldn’t tell if the shark was a mechanical beast or if it was real. All I knew is that there were people who were falling prey to this thing and they were being eaten one limb at a time. There was no police officer that would be able to stop this monster, no fisherman, no governor…and, yes…not even my father. This think was going to get me one way or another.
Well, after the movie I was so scared. Going to our friend’s home I remember passing the Cordell Hull Dam. Cordell Hull was an American politician from Tennessee and served as Secretary of State for eleven years. He was the one who informed the Japanese that he was fully aware that they had, unprovoked by the United States, attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Anyway, we arrived back at the guest house. After going to bed, I couldn’t get that shark out of my mind. I just knew that when we went back home, dad would take us all out to the beach and would want to take us back out to the first, second, and as far out as the third sand bar. I was trying to figure out an excuse for not going out that far into the water: “I can’t go out there, dad. I’m washing my hair that day.” or “I can’t go out there because mom needs someone to stay with her.” or “I can’t go out there because I’m allergic to sharks in the water who want to eat me limb by limb!” I just couldn’t think of a good enough reason, but I knew we’d be going back home and then to the beach.
That night, after finally falling asleep, It was the nightmare of nightmares. It just so happened, and I remember it as if it was yesterday, that the Cordell Hull Dam broke and fell apart. All of Nashville, Tennessee was under water from the break. And to my chagrin, just as the guest house we were staying in was smashed to smithereens, I witnessed the scariest thing in all of my nine years of life. It was the shark! He had been living in the lake that was formed by the dam and when the dam broke he came straight to the guest house where we were staying and he found my family. One by one I saw them eaten–limb by limb, piece by piece. I couldn’t do anything because I was not a great swimmer. Then the shark…the really big Great White Shark…turned it’s ugly face toward me and with mouth opened wide, after eating my entire family, was about to…
That’s when my dad woke me up as I was behind the door to the bedroom where I was staying. I’m so thankful that I have a dad who never took me out to the third sand bar again. I’m thankful that he heard my screaming that night, scooped me up in his arms, and comforted me and let me know that everything would be alright. I’m thankful that I’ve never come into contact with that beast…not even in any more of dreams.